Dr John Beard, a distinguished embryologist, was born in 1858. He was educated at the University of London and completed his doctoral degree at the University of Frieberg in Germany. In the latter part of 1906, he received a nomination for the Nobel prize. In 1911, he published his subsequent work in a book entitled, ‘The Enzymatic Treatment of Cancer.’ It is a great shame that his ideas did not receive more attention at that time. With the current re-emerging interest in the Metabolic and Biochemical Theory of cancer and a more rational approach to its treatment, evidence from molecular biology and stem cell research have increasingly confirmed many of Beard’s fundamental ideas.
As an embryologist, Beard eventually focused on mammalian and ultimately human embryology. His research covered the function of the embryo and its behaviour in utero. Here is where he made a remarkable discovery.
Put simply; Beard discovered that the human embryo started to develop its own pancreatic activity, more specifically the production of pancreatic enzymes, on about day 55 of the pregnancy, just short of the second month. This was unknown at the time, and unexpected. It also seemed counter-intuitive. Two important jobs of the pancreas are first, the production of insulin for the maintenance of normal blood glucose levels and secondly, the production of enzymes for the breakdown of protein, fat and carbohydrates in the intestinal tract. However, the embryo’s blood and that of the mother are intimately connected, and to a larger extent, the mother manages the blood glucose level. The mother also digests the food and absorbs the products of digestion into her own bloodstream, from which she then imparts nutrients to the foetus.
Beard also discovered that if the foetal pancreas did not develop in this way and at this time, the mother would develop choriocarcinoma, or pregnancy cancer, and this could be fatal to both the mother and the developing embryo. From this,, he hypothesised that this embryotic pancreatic output could counteract the further development of cancer during pregnancy. This discovery led to the suggestion that pancreatic extracts would likely be a powerful treatment for adult cancer.
He focused on the pancreatic enzymes; trypsin, chymotrypsin and amylase, and experimented with giving injections of pancreas extract to patients with cancer. Initially, he believed that the extract would have to be given by injection. This was because enzymes are proteins and it was believed at the time that they would be broken down in the patient’s duodenum by the patient’s pancreatic output. We now know and have known for several decades, that this is not the case. Pancreatic extracts can be given both safely and effectively by mouth. This topic will be explored further in a future Naturopathic Note.
For the moment, it is pertinent to consider the parallels between the embryonic activity in utero and the activity of a travelling cancer cell looking to establish a new metastatic cancer in a patient with cancer. It is not easy for a cancer cell to escape out of a tumour through the various membranes and tissues that surround it. Once that is accomplished, the cancer cell then has to break through further membranes to enter the bloodstream. Next, the cancer cell must make it’s way to the target tissues elsewhere in the body. Similarly, the tiny morula (ovum, sperm and a few offspring cells, though not yet a recognisable embryo) has the same problem. Once the fertilised egg enters the upper part of the uterus, it is not easy for it to break into the uterine wall sufficiently to get a firm hold and become safely embedded. At the biochemical level, there are many strategies that both cancer cells and the morula (in cancer and pregnancy respectively), use to block the actions of the immune system, safely enter the target tissues, draw in nutrients from the bloodstream and do everything else that is required to complete the process of either an embedded and established metastasis or an embryo.
In other words, the actions that occur during the establishment of pregnancy are in many ways similar to the actions that occur when cancer cells metastasise to a new location in the body.
There are many reports of good results that Beard achieved with his use of pancreatic enzymes nearly 100 years ago, and much more has been done since and will be expanded upon in a subsequent Naturopathic Note.